Ocean classroom aboard Harvey Gamage

55 Navprob

Since being launched in 1973 the 131-foot schooner Harvey Gamage has put more than 100,000 miles under her keel. In that time the stout schooner, named for the builder of the same name, has survived everything the sea has thrown in her way, while upholding exacting standards of seamanship and professionalism. There are many a captain today who began as a deck hand aboard Gamage. The ship has served as both elementary and finishing school to a generation of sailors.

From the beginning Harvey Gamage, under the guidance of Eben Whitcomb, kept the flame of celestial navigation burning brightly. On long ocean passages, from the East Coast to Bermuda, and then on to the Caribbean, Capt. Whitcomb patiently unraveled the mysteries of the celestial triangle to passengers and crew alike. In the mid 1990s when Whitcomb sold the vessel to the Ocean Classroom Foundation (www.oceanclassroom.org) the navigation program became a part of a much larger educational component of studying for a semester at sea.

The Ocean Classroom Foundation states in its mission statement that it uses “the power of the sea to help students attain academic excellence, personal growth, and to encourage stewardship of the ocean world.” As well as Harvey Gamage, Ocean Classroom also operates the schooner Spirit of Massachusetts and the staysail schooner Westward.

Programs aboard these vessels are designed for both high school and college students and are fully accredited in subjects as diverse as marine science, maritime history, maritime literature, creative writing, mathematics and navigation. For those fortunate enough to secure a berth aboard for these programs, the semester at sea can provide a window into the world far beyond anything they would have ordinarily experienced had they stayed at home.

A recent program had 13 students joining Gamage in St. Thomas in February. From there, under the leadership of Capt. Christopher Flansburg, eight professional crew and three educators, the students sailed the British Virgin Islands, then to Nevis, Guadeloupe and Bequia. They helped to build a house in Honduras and sailed from Belize through to Florida. They learned to appreciate Matouk in Trinidad, identified phytoplankton recovered from plankton trawls, discovered Jack London and read Conrad aloud. They also learned and practiced celestial navigation.

Using the boat’s own celestial navigation manual, Capt. Flansburg would explain the concepts of declination and the celestial triangle to the students and they would go off to take their sights. The response to learning celestial navigation drew a collective “It’s cool,” response from the youngsters and left one with the feeling that there is a whole new generation of star finders who will keep the traditions alive.

On passage north on May 12, 2010, 16-year-old Abi Campbell took a noon sight. She shot the lower limb of the sun at 1658 GMT. The height of eye was 10 feet and the index error was 5.6 minutes off. Her Hs was 72° 59.7’ and the DR at the time of the sight was 34° 54’ N by 75° 13’ W.

Find the latitude at LAN. (See answer below)

Latitude is 34° 56.1’ N

By Ocean Navigator